Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Have you ever been so lost in a novel...

...that real life confuses you a bit?

This morning I was reading Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips on the train to work.

I'd just got to the part where two of the characters take the train to the underworld with the souls of the dead when my train pulled into Victoria station. I'm normally pretty slow at getting ready to go anyway (need to put on coat, hat, scarf, put mp3 player in coat pocket, put handbag over shoulder, grab other bad) but I was even SLOWER this morning and by the time I moved out of my seat my carriage was empty. No worries, I thought as I walked toward the door, it just means there will be less of a cram at the ticket barriers.

The doors were closed.

It's fine, I thought. Just open them.

Press Open.
Press Open.
Press Open again.

The doors remain closed. The open button wasn't lit up.

Shit, I thought. I'm locked in.

I stood there, frantically pressing the button for several minutes until I realise the doors WERE NOT GOING TO OPEN.

So I walked to the next carriage. The open button wasn't lit up.

So I walked to the next carriage and the next and the next.

I was locked in the train!

I started to feel a bit frantic and hurried through the train searching for a way out. And then...

I saw a cleaner. Hooray!

"Excuse me," I said.

The cleaner ignored me and continued collecting newspapers and stuffing them into her clear plastic sack.

"Excuse me," I said, louder.

Still no response. Not even a flicker that she'd heard me.

"Excuse me," I said again, nearly shouting.

The cleaner reached into her pocket and pulled out her mobile phone and started texting someone.

It was in that moment that fiction blurred with reality and for one teeny tiny millisecond I wondered if I'd actually had a heart attack in my seat, not noticed I was dead and was now a lost soul wondering the Brighton to London train for all eternity. It didn't help that in MY novel one of the characters wants to haunt a train station.

I ran back down the train. There HAD to be a way out somehow.

And found an Italian couple who were also locked in. And they smiled at me and spoke. Hoorah, I wasn't a ghost after all, just incredibly dozy.

After about ten minutes during which the Italian pressed their faces up against the windows and screamed (they were posing for photos for their friends who were on the platform) the overhead voice announced "This is the Brighton train, stopping at..." and finally, FINALLY the doors opened.

I was free.


HelenMH said...

What a surreal experience. I think I'd have been banging hysterically on the windows in minutes!

KAREN said...

Sounds scary - like one of those dreams where you can't wake up! I've gone past my stop before, reading a novel, but never been trapped like that. Good for writing purposes though :o)

Lane said...

Horrible panicky moment!

But look how well you've written about it.

(character that haunts a station? Really? I want to read your book:-)

Alix said...

oh scary. I would have been curled up in a ball sobbing, I can't stand feeling trapped.

Leigh said...

Oh, you poor thing! Yes, I can easily imagine how that must have got a bit strange. And yes, that sort of thing does happen to me occasionally (mostly due to an over-active imagination!). V. spooky. Good plot line though - there has to be a shorty there somewhere!

Lazy Perfectionista said...

I read 'Gods Behaving Badly' last year, and can understand how that would freak you out! The bit with the talking tree reminded me of the Tori Amos character in 'Stardust' (another book I loved!). Glad you were finally set free...

A. Writer said...

God, that's scary! I would have thought exactly the same as you.

I don't like trains at the best of times so getting locked in one is too scary to think about.

This hasn't happened to me... yet!

JJ said...

OMG, that sounds very unpleasant. What was the matter with the cleaner? I'm glad you escaped, though.

Kate.Kingsley said...

oooh, scary.

I'm comtemplating "God's behaving Badly" as my next read ~ but I won't take it on any trains just in case!

Yvonne said...

OMG Cal that's one freaky experience, being stuck on a ghost train. Waah! I would have been beside myself, trains give me the heebie jeebies sometimes...anyway hope you are enjoying Gods Behaving Badly, I haven't read it but I like Marie Phillips' blog, would you recommend it?

Quillers said...

Oh I'd have been frantic, Cally. What a rude person that cleaner was. Are you sure she wasn't a ghost? Now there's a story...